The SP 500 made a healthy 2.8% gain in the four days of trading this week. Unlike the bullish move from two weeks ago, where bullish sentiment increased along with the market, this week's bullish move resulted in a decrease of bullish sentiment to a level (17.6%) seen only once in the last twenty years (green circle on the chart below). This rare amount of pessimism just increases the chances of a rally.
Also on the chart, the blue arrows demonstrate how downward spikes in bullish sentiment correspond to major lows on the SP 500-- after which major rallies occurred. The blue oval indicates the one time that the resulting rally only lasted two months before dropping to new lows.
The probability continues to point to at least a short to medium-term rally. Few investors think that the market will be higher in six months, which means most have sold what they were prepared to sell. When there are fewer sellers, the market tends to rally.
On the monetary side, the CME FED tool is giving a zero percent probability for a rate cut, 97.9 % chance of no change, and only a 2.1 % probability of a quarter point rate hike on March 16th.
The FED and the rate futures market are singing from very different hymn books, evidenced by the fact that Yellen has not been unnerved by the market down-turn, which means a rate hike is not off the table according to her. In fact, she may even be pleased that some of the frothiness has been blown off of the equity markets. She is certainly happy with the cover provided for the FED's December rate hike by the lower unemployment rate, increase in hourly earnings, and core PCE inflation.
The discrepancy between the opinions of the FED and that of the rate futures market, highlights a possible risk to the equities market. Any positive economic data that comes out between now and March 16th, could puff-up the FED's confidence enough for them to declare a completely unexpected rate hike that would blind-side the equities, which are still reeling from a self-inflicted round of tightening. We are not expecting this, but we do think it carries more than a 2.1% probability.
In conclusion, having bullish sentiment at twenty year lows increases the historic probability of a short to medium-term rally, but we continue to keep one eye on the FED.
Disclosure: I am/we are long SPXL.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.